WDP Staff

Apr 122014
 

Republished from Nikon USA

Jody Dole photo of grass with lots of bokehJody Dole
Bokeh is easily seen in the foreground and background. D3X, 200mm lens, 1/3200 second, f/2.8, -1.0 EV.

 

 
Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality.” Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.

Visit any photography website or forum and you’ll find plenty of folks debating the pleasing bokeh that their favorite fast lenses allow. Adjectives that describe bokeh include: smooth, incredible, superb, good, beautiful, sweet, silky, and excellent… but what exactly is it?

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

Although bokeh is actually a characteristic of a photograph, the lens used determines the shape and size of the visible bokeh. Usually seen more in highlights, bokeh is affected by the shape of the diaphragm blades (the aperture) of the lens. A lens with more circular shaped blades will have rounder, softer orbs of out-of-focus highlights, whereas a lens with an aperture that is more hexagonal in shape will reflect that shape in the highlights.

Achieving Bokeh in Your Images

To achieve bokeh in an image, you need to use a fast lens—the faster the better. You’ll want to use a lens with at least an f/2.8 aperture, with faster apertures of f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 being ideal. Many photographers like to use fast prime lenses when shooting photographs that they want visible bokeh in.

You’ll want to shoot with the lens wide open, so you’ll want to use a shooting mode of Aperture Priority or Manual. Manual gives you the ability to choose both your aperture and shutter speed, whereas Aperture Priority allows you to choose the f/stop while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed for the exposure. You could also use the Flexible Program mode, choosing the widest possible aperture/shutter speed combination.

Don’t worry if you don’t own a very fast lens. By increasing the distance between the background and your subject, you can see bokeh in images that are shot at smaller apertures like f/8.

To increase the likelihood of visible bokeh in your photographs, increase the distance between your subject and the background. You can do this by decreasing the distance between the camera and subject. The more shallow the depth-of-field, or further the background is, the more out-of-focus it will be. Highlights hitting the background will show more visible bokeh too, so if you’re using a backlight, side light or a hair light, the bokeh may be more pleasing to the eye.

Paul Van Allen photo of water drops on red green leafPaul Van Allen
D3000, 60mm lens, 1/13 second, f/10. Although wider apertures are better, you can still get bokeh with smaller f/stops.

 The most photographed subjects showing nice examples of bokeh are portraits. Close-up portraits show bokeh very well. Close-up and macro images of flowers and other objects in nature are also popular subjects to photograph that shows off bokeh in the image. An often-photographed subject that is an extreme example of bokeh is photographing a grouping of holiday lights or other highly reflective objects. When purposely photographed out-of-focus, these normally harsh or bright objects become soft, pastel, diffused orbs of glowing light.

Bokeh can add softness to an otherwise brightly lit photograph. Using this technique to separate your subject from the background can also allow you to utilize a not-so-photogenic background in your image—but because of its diffused blur, it helps to “highlight” the subject, not detract from it.

 
Mar 312014
 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 First-impressions Review

September 2013 | By Allison Johnson – As posted on dpreview

The smartphone and the point-and-shoot are not, by nature, natural companions. One takes better pictures than the other but has difficulty sharing them. The other takes less inspiring images, but can share them instantly. One is easy to leave at home by accident, and the other is in your pocket at all times.

Camera manufacturers have been trying for some time to make compact cameras more like smartphones by adding Wi-Fi connectivity, but no attempt to date has been quite as bold as Sony’s latest effort: the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and QX10 are sensor/lens modules designed explicitly for use with smartphones. Each unit contains a lens, sensor and processor and your smartphone provides the user interface.

With a shutter button and zoom toggle the QX100 and QX10 are able to operate as standalone cameras (albeit without an LCD or any way of checking composition) but they’re designed to work in concert with a smartphone by way of Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app. Establish a connection between the devices, open up the app and your mobile device acts as the camera’s LCD. Included with each unit is a mount that clamps to the backside of a smartphone.

The QX100 is the high-end model, and it’s quite a step up: at its core are the best bits of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, based around the same 20MP 1-inch sensor and fast (at the wide end) Zeiss-branded zoom lens. The RX100 II’s predecessor won a DPReview silver award when we reviewed it, and its excellent image quality was a major factor. In the RX100 II, Sony added a backside illuminated sensor to improve already good low-light performance, and our initial impressions of the updated model have been positive.

Sadly, although not surprisingly, the QX100 is a JPEG-only device. And not only is RAW mode unavailable, manual exposure control is limited too, to aperture priority and exposure compensation. There’s no shutter priority mode here, nor fully manual (even though we can’t see why there couldn’t have been). HD video recording is available at 1440 x 1080 resolution, reduced from the standard 1920 x 1080 found in most compact cameras (including the RX100 II).

The RX100 II currently sells for $750; the QX100 has been introduced at $499.95. That’s a sizable discount if you can live with the trimmed-down feature set.

Key specifications:

  • 20.2 effective megapixel 1.0″ Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor
  • 28-100mm equivalent 3.6x optical zoom F1.8-4.9 lens
  • Limited manual control – aperture priority, auto and exposure compensation
  • Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
  • MicroSD card slot
  • NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity

Camera manufacturers are doing their best to make nice with mobile devices by adding Wi-Fi and NFC, but nobody has solved the dilemma yet. Sony’s bold attempt with the QX100 isn’t just to work with your smartphone, it’s designed to become part of your smartphone. The QX100 aims to produce better photos and facilitate easier sharing, all from one device.